The L-Bow FL1 Front Bike Light is well priced, innovative in its design, and has decent run-times. However, there are some design elements that could be improved, such as the deep screw holes at the front and the lack of washers on the handlebar mount.
This is the first L-Bow product I have come across and it is certainly striking looking. It kind of reminds me of Boba Fett's spaceship from Star Wars, if anybody is as nerdy as me.
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Rather than sitting directly on the handlebar, the light attaches via an out-front bar mount with a GoPro style connector, made by Gub. (L-Bow says if you already have such a mount, you can just order the light on its own.) This keeps it out the way of the bar and means it doesn't take up valuable handlebar real estate.
The light sits in front of the head tube for 'superb aerodynamic benefits', according to L-Bow. I can't test exactly how aero the light is, but given its slender shape it's certainly designed to cut through the air.
Once you've attached the light and mount, it's very easy to take it on and off without needing to fiddle with any of the mount bolts – a single button on the side releases the light from the plastic section attaching it to the GoPro connector; everything else stays in place.
The Gub mount has a lot of adjustability, by loosening bolts and shifting things about, but one downside is that, without washers, and combined with the large light hanging beneath, the bolts can loosen on their own, and fairly quickly – I even had one of the bolts holding the GoPro style connector completely fall out during one ride.
Using the light is simple as it just has a single button at the top: a long press turns it on and off, with a short press changing the mode.
The light has eight modes:
- Low power solid
- Medium power solid
- High power solid
- Low steady
- High steady flash
- Split solid & flash
- Burst flash
These offer various brightnesses and run-times, but with a maximum of 200 lumens this is a light for being seen rather than lighting your way. It's not bright enough for riding on unlit roads, but it is perfectly adequate for making sure I'm seen by other road users.
The light has two COB LEDs sitting behind a clear perspex cover, with a wide finned plastic back. The quality is okay, but there are elements that could be more refined. The plastic on the front feels relatively brittle, and the screws that hold it on are open to the elements and sit down small holes, where water gathers after riding in particularly heavy rain – though the light does have an IPX5 waterproof rating.
The light doesn't feature on our beam comparison engine, but it does have a unique beam shape; being vertical, it's essentially a rectangle on its end. L-Bow claims that it offers a 270-degree field of vision which seems about right, although once you pass the 180 it's definitely less noticeable, which is no surprise.
Battery life and charging
Battery life, as with all lights, is dependent on how you use it, but L-Bow claims it runs from 11-46 hours. I tended to use it on Pulse, which is one of the lower powered options, and during my month-long review I only needed to recharge it a couple of times. This is pretty solid for a commuter light and means you won't need to be constantly charging it. One helpful element is the LED under the switch that indicates battery level, so you know when it needs charging.
Charging is done through a micro USB slot at the top of the light, which can be accessed by popping up a lever. During use this area sits within the plastic mount, which means it's well protected from water when out and about.
Charging from empty takes between two and three hours, depending on whether you're charging from a socket (closer to two hours), or from a laptop (closer to three). This is pretty much on a par with others in this kind of price range.
Value and conclusion
The light and mount cost £26.95, but if you already have a mount you can pick up the light by itself for £17.95, which is a pretty good price, especially considering the battery life.
Compare that with the Cateye AMPP 100 that Shaun tested earlier this month, which comes in at £19.99 but isn't as bright and has shorter run-times. Similarly, the Topeak Headlux 100 that Jamie reviewed last year is also just 100 lumens, and is £21.99, though it has better waterproofing at IPX6.
> Buyer’s Guide: The best front lights for cycling & beam comparison
Overall, this is an interesting light that does quite a lot well; it comes in at a decent price, includes some innovative features, and doesn't take up much room on the handlebar. However, there are some elements that could be improved, like the bolts coming loose and the screw holes collecting water.
An innovative light at a good price, but could do with some design tweaks
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Make and model: L-Bow FL1 Front Bike Light with Gub handlebar computer mount
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
L-Bow says: "The FL-1 utilises two bright cobb style LEDs to ensure you are easily seen. Designed to be mounted inline with your frame for superb aerodynamic benefits as well as not cluttering up your handlebars."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
8 Light modes with favorite mode memory
BRIGHT dual Cobb LEDs - 200 Lumen at maximum output
270' field of vision
1400 mah micro-USB rechargeable Lithium battery
11-46 hours run time dependant on mode
Charge time 2-3 hours
Unclips instantly for theft prevention, storage and recharging
Rate the light for quality of construction:
There's nothing to suggest it's likely to fall apart, but the size of the front panel combined with the slightly brittle feel does worry me.
Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
Really easy, both in terms of mounting and usability with the single button.
Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
The connection between light and GoPro style mount works well, but the mount could do with some washers to stop the bolts shaking loose.
Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
It didn't suffer from any water ingress, but the deep screw holes at the front did collect water in heavy downpours.
Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
Very impressive for the price; with a range of 11-46 hours there's no need to be constantly charging it.
Rate the light for performance:
It's definitely a light to be seen, not to light the way, and for that it works very well.
Rate the light for durability:
All good so far, but the combination of the brittle and expansive front panel combined with the water pooling in the deep screw holes are a worry.
Rate the light for weight:
Despite its size it isn't a massive burden to lug about.
Rate the light for value:
For under £30 (and less than £20 if you already have a mount), it's a good price for the brightness and battery life.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It offers a decent amount of light for being seen, with decent run-times meaning it doesn't require constant charging. It would be good to have some covers over the screw holes to stop water pooling, though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
How it keeps the light off my handlebar – no need to worry about limited handlebar space.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The screw holes at the front that can collect water.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Looking at the light without the mount, it's £17.95, which compares well with others: the Cateye AMPP 100 comes in at £19.99 but isn't as bright and doesn't have as long battery life. The Topeak Headlux 100 is also 100 lumens, but has better waterproofing at IPX6, but it's £21.99.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? No
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's quite good – a decent light for the price – but could do with some tweaks.
Age: 33 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
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